Patty Murray got into politics in the early 1990’s after she went to speak to a locally elected official and he derided her as a “Mom in tennis shoes”. She’s still a Mom in tennis shoes, but she’s also a senior Senate Democrat and part of the Congressional leadership. She’s a gem, and I wish there were more like her in that less-than-august body.
We live in a pay-to-play society — and that will be even more true as Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand inspired budget passes with big tax cuts for the rich and savage cuts to things like Medicaid and health care for the poor. You get to be one of 15 people having breakfast with Senator Murray if you can write a check for $5000. I don’t think she wants it that way, but it’s how political life is. The Koch brothers and their dark money brethren roll out hundreds of millions of dollars to support politicians who will vote their way. People like Patty Murray have to raise a war chest all on their own.
She and the Democratic leadership are hard focused on the Republican health care bill, which is being written in stealth and without any input from Democrats at all. Patty thinks that Mitch McConnell will only bring it up for a vote if he has 50 “yea’s”, and then the House, while grumbling, will adopt the Senate version and move on to what they really care about: big tax cuts for the wealthy. The Democratic leadership is trying to find 3 Republican Senators to vote the health care bill down with them, and it’s a hard sell. McConnell is a wily strategist, and he’s promising wavering caucus members like Shelly Moore Capito extra money to fund the opioid crisis in her state if she will go along with him and vote yes.
Patty’s concern is that we are all so fixated on whether Trump will fire Mueller that we’re not focusing on the stealth health care bill, which will hurt a lot of people — many of them in states that Trump carried by wide margins. Her advice is to deluge Senate offices with phone calls protesting the bill. It helps if you live in the state represented by the Senator you are calling. Right now, those calls are not happening.
Patty said a lot of other things, and just listening to her makes me hopeful that there are still people in public service who are there for just that — to serve. She talked about going to West Virginia to listen to coal miners, all Trump supporters, who want their communities to come back again and want undeserving [I suspect she meant black and Hispanic, immigrant, LGBTQ] people to stop getting things when poor white coal miners aren’t getting them. Persuading them to see that Trump’s empty promises aren’t the answer is a hard sell. And it’s going to take a long time.
Hard to hear when you’re 72, as I am, and you don’t have another 50 years to see the country climb out of this morass of dark and swirling resentment. I hate that I have small grandchildren who will grow up thinking Trump and his clan of Grifters are the embodiment of “President and First Family”. How much do we miss President Obama these days, and how much do we mourn the loss of what might have been under a President Hillary Clinton?
Everybody who attended the breakfast gave Patty a big hug and urged her to keep fighting. That, along with writing checks, is what we can do, and it feels like very little.